26 September 2023

Oslo’s Melbourne: Illustrated Adventures in the World’s Most Tolerated City

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Oslo Davis, Black Inc., $29.99.

Even though cartoonist Oslo Davis admits to “pretty much being the worst authority on Melbourne” he does agree the city has more than a few redeeming features.

“You could say I have a complicated, love/hate/tolerate relationship with Melbourne, where ‘fear of living in any place that’s not Melbourne’ is pretty much the only thing keeping me here.”

He doesn’t tend to “explore new precincts” or “lose myself in the city.” Yet he found he had done an “embarrassingly excessive amount” of work about Melbourne.

“Melbourne in the early 2000s was booming and quite sure of itself yet I also remember everything here feeling a touch over-hyped. Drawing pictures that ridiculed Melbourne’s contradictions was probably my way to connect and engage, and to bring the city down a peg or two.”

You could say he has a complicated relationship with Australia’s hipster capital or most liveable city: ‘fear of living in any place that’s not Melbourne’ is pretty much the only thing keeping him here.

A vividly interesting, full-colour (and black and white) collection of words and pictures displays draws together years of observations of daily life in Melbourne. It’s also a poignant celebration of a city that has suffered more lockdowns than anywhere in the world and survived to tell the tale.

A smart cover displays a sad Oslo Davis to substitute for the prominent Skipping Girl neon sign and a tagline calling Melbourne “the world’s most tolerated city”. Oslo’s Melbourne contains the best of his drawings and essays from numerous publications, remastered for the collection, as well as original works commissioned for this book.

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